During the fall of my sophomore year in college I spent the semester in London, England. While it wasn’t my first time out of the country, it was a turning point in my life. I like to think of it as the defining moment of being “bitten by the travel bug”, as well as the start of my love affair with London. I always knew I wanted to study abroad while I was in college, and it quickly became a no brainer on where to go.
My college has a specified London Program every year where one professor leads a group of university students in London. Classes were taught out of a building in Bloomsbury Square, just a stone’s throw from the British Museum. Everyone lived in flats in the same building in Maida Vale, taking the Bakerloo line from the Warwick Avenue tube stop everyday to get to class.
I left with a group of classmates, some already close friends and some simply a name and a face. I came back with nineteen individuals that I will always share an incredible bond with thanks to this experience.
With Gail and Kathleen at the start of it all, September 3, 2007; my partners in crime and two of my flatmates!
Arriving in London for the first time was surreal. Collectively jet lagged our group made our way through customs, collecting our bags and piling onto a bus to journey into the city. I remember thinking to myself, as the British accents swirled around me in Heathrow, “I’m actually here!”. The bus ride into the city was a blur, all of us desperately trying to pick out iconic landmarks as we gazed out the window. Pulling down our street was beyond exciting; this would be where we’d be living the next three months!
Our flats in the Maida Vale neighborhood were quintessential British living. Quaint, and small!
An, albeit grainy, shot of my tiny room that I shared with Gail for the 3 months we were abroad. The extra bed was a dream for storage, since what’s not pictured is the teeny tiny wardrobe we shared that was literally overflowing with clothes!
On one of our first nights in London we all gussied up and went to The Palm Court Brasserie in Covent Garden with the entire class for a welcome dinner.
The first week was spent getting settled in before classes started the following Monday. As an introduction to London, the group went on a bus tour of the city to see the major sites. We started things off at Buckingham Palace.
It’s funny to look back at these pictures, since my eye immediately goes to the center balcony and all of the events in which the royal family has made an appearance in that spot!
Next was Westminster Abbey, along with Elizabeth Tower (known more commonly as the bell inside the tower, Big Ben!).
And stop number three was The Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
The tour really was just a taste of the city; I could not wait to get out and start exploring.
Taking advantage of our free week, the girls and I picked up last minute tickets to a play that Orlando Bloom was starring in. The show was rubbish, but two and a half hours of watching Orlando in the flesh was well worth the ticket price!
We also made time for a late night trek to Abbey Road, trying multiple times to take the famous shot but failing to get any usable pictures!
And we embraced our tourist side with a tour inside of Buckingham Palace and a ride on the London Eye!
After a mere 4 days in London, I was already falling in love with the city!